Pause, then Punctuate

The first of The Roundup this October!

Today’s issue might not be about typography in the conventional sense, or at least, as most of us think of it. The alphabet take all the limelight, followed by the number set and perhaps, the Ampersand in second place.

Typographic symbols, why care? Because typography is about reading and typographic symbols and punctuation help us read right, and better. That’s why.

Case closed.

Psych! Obviously, there’s more.


To Hyphen, Dash or Slash?

Firstly, if you’re just hearing there’s a difference between hyphens and dashes, welcome to the other side. Don’t blame me if you very quickly become an ‘em dash’ junkie. I, personally, have a serious em dash obsession. Lookthey are gorgeous. They break words so inorganically, and that’s exactly how we speak and enunciate!

Let’s now learn about 3 types of punctuation— hyphens, dashes (en and em) and slashes (forward and back). Hyphens and dashes— the what, the why, the dos and don’ts. Use them, don’t confuse them. For slashes, there's two kinds, forward and back. Backslashes are pretty straightforward (no links needed), used only for computer coding. PHEW— done. Forward slashes, or just slash, or virgule, if you’re feeling fancy, are used and mean very different things based on the context. Here’s more on that.


💥 Some Good $#*! 💩

What do you say when you drop hot coffee on yourself? $*%!? Wait, why did I get censored? What just happened? Did I just self-censor to prove a point? Yes.

They’re called Grawlix. A string of typographical symbols used (especially in comics) to represent an obscenity or swear word. The graphical version of bleeping out a word, if you will— applied in both graphic and textual settings. Typically, a grawlix is made from the unpronounceable characters that can be found on top of the number row on your computer keyboard like @, #, $, %, &, * and so forth.

The invention of the term Grawlix is credited to American Cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey and author of The Lexicon of Comicana, a book where he collected a number of terms created for the tropes of comic drawing. Off typ-opic (when I do write The Lexicon of Typorama, this will be a hit!), but here’s a fun read about many more such made up words from the world of comics.


🤓 The Punctuation Guide 🤓

There’s a lot more to punctuation than commas and fullstops. And mind you, there’s so much to just commas and fullstops; Parentheses, apostrophes, quotation marks, colons and semicolons, ellipses… and have you heard of the Interrobang? It’s an unconventional mark (used in various scripts) that combines the functions of the question mark, and the exclamation point. For eg, What is 2020‽ So yeah, there’s that.

I’ve learnt more about how to correctly use punctuation from just researching and writing this issue. A good start to punctuation is here. And punctuation in the context of type composition, here.


It’s easy to write off attention to punctuation as unnecessary or even, geeky. And in all fairness, we all do it everyday, and we’re doing okay. Imperfect punctuation never killed a man (or design?), but good use of punctuation can make a huge difference to how your reader/user reads or interacts with your designs. Typography is all about details and feels. Once you see it, you see it.

Hope you enjoyed this issue, albeit unconventional. Let me know if you enjoy reading about the non-design things of typography too. You can always reply to this email, or drop me a DM on Twitter or a comment below! 👇

Have a fantastic Sunday!
🌈 Sneha.